FINANCE: Monitor has launched an investigation into the finances of one of the country’s largest acute trusts after it reported a £29.5m deficit in the first five months of the financial year.

The foundation trust sector regulator said it was concerned about the speed of the deterioration in Heart of England FT’s financial position, adding that the provider has had to use cash reserves for day to day running.

Birmingham Heartlands Hospital

Monitor said the trusts ‘has slipped worryingly into the red’

Monitor regional director Marianne Loynes said: “This trust has slipped worryingly into the red…

“A deficit of £29.5m in five months is simply not acceptable and we want to establish what can be done to ensure the trust continues to provide the services local patients value.”

Monitor’s latest intervention comes after the trust had a condition placed on its license by the regulator last October, citing poor performance on waiting times and mortality.

HEFT provides services for 1.2 million people across Birmingham, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield and south Staffordshire.

The trust recorded income of £647.6m in 2014-15.

HEFT deputy chief executive Andrew Catto said: “This is a very serious situation and the trust already has plans in place which it believes will make a difference quickly. This is not an investigation into the quality of care that HEFT provides, it is part of a normal response when a trust is not performing as expected, and with the current financial problems across the NHS, is not unique to this trust.

“The trust accepts responsibility for this difficult financial position, conscious decisions were made to invest heavily in making improvements for patients such as reducing the waiting times in A&E, ensuring shorter waiting times for operations and the recruitment of 160 new nurses. The welfare of our patients and staff is the most important thing and this will not be compromised.”